No usual Friday morning for you this week due to other commitments so we’ll plough headlong into Arsène’s press conference yesterday. There is a casual calm about players contracts at the moment so why should the club or manager worry about his? As he pointed out, there are two years to go until his reaches its natural conclusion and not having terminated a contract to this point, well, to do so now would genuinely break the habits of a lifetime. No rush to re-sign and business as usual, stiff upper lip and all that jazz.
He has previous in probably every deal going since beginning his tenure as manager and it is curious timing to begin talking about contract renewals now. It seems to have been media driven with an agenda to trap Ivan Gazidis into saying that the trophy drought is causing questions to be asked at the highest level, a new angle with which to view the club. Or a different one at least and in that sense, there is no problem with the line of questioning. Arsenal should be questioned about decisions and certainly the media has better access than we do, opportunities to tackle issues that shed light – or more light – on the thinking of the hierarchy. It’s a lot better than the usual sensationalism with which they address player contracts, for example.
Managerial reigns are frequently terminated at the drop of a hat, this is a results business and the remedy for a poor run is the axe being wielded. Rare is the manager who finds their contract being allowed to reach their end without being renewed. Unless of course, you have been flirting with another employer…
It is one of the few roles in football which has retained the power of the owner and there has been no move anywhere to offer any protection in the same way that players have wrestled control from the clubs. Sporadically there are comments that a ‘managerial window’ ought to exist, similar opportunities for managers to be removed from their jobs or poached. Unsurprisingly clubs ignore or ridicule such measures and I doubt it will ever change, to be honest why should it?
As quickly as he quashed discussions about his own future, Wenger moved to do the same about Bacary Sagna. Typically for Arsenal fans, there is a vocal minority who disparage the full backs contract talk due to injuries, as if his legs being broken by opponents were his own fault. There used to be something in the British legal system about contributory negligence – Attila The Stockbroker did a great poem on it – and no doubt in what passes for their minds, he is entirely culpable.
Having previously revealed that his own view is that unhappy players can take a hike, Wenger sought to defuse any animosity toward his charge,
Yes [I spoke to him]. It’s important to understand what he wanted to say. What he wanted to say was not exactly the spirit of the whole thing. You have the freedom to say what you want in life but it is also important you understand what people feel about the club and their job. It’s always important to have good communication with them.
Sort of fell down on that one, didn’t you Le Boss? Sagna’s gripe was predominantly about the lack of contact over a new deal, something which the manager assured everyone will happen, and also about the sale of Song to Barcelona. The latter strikes me more about the sadness of seeing a friend depart than a concern about the depth in midfield. As Arsène noted, Song was really a One In Ten as far as that is concerned. That he felt hurt by recent summers lack of loyalty as youngsters he had nutured flew the nest, was evident in his casual dismissal of Song’s sale.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match with Southampton, the injury news was unsurprising. Abou Diaby is rated as 50:50 which given the comments from Didier Deschamps will come as no shock to anyone. Looking at the walking wounded, it offers the opportunity for Francis Coquelin to put his talent where his mouth is. The youngster wanted an opportunity, presumably Arsène will offer it although restoring Diaby for the matches against Montepellier and Manchester City will be key; there is no sense in rushing matters unnecessarily.
The goalkeepers offer the manager a selection headache in some minds. To me the matter is clear cut; you always choose your best goalkeeper for the match. Vito Mannone has played well overall so far but is not the best goalkeeper at the club, in my opinion that is Szczesny and if he is now fit, Vito must be moved aside. However, it seems that Mannone has pushed himself ahead of Lukasz Fabianski and will be viewed as the natural substitute when needed. It does Szczesny good to know that one of the others is capable of filling his boots. Mannone needed luck and help at Anfield but he produced saves when required.
Fabianski is a curious case though. He has a shoulder injury again according to the manager. That does not sit with the new s he was an unused substitute for Poland this week; is this a tactical injury similar to those Manuel Almunia suffered in his latter years at the club? It would be a pity if this is how his career is ending in north London but of no surprise. He was a highly-rated goalkeeper but for whatever reason, nerves got the better of him and he took time to recover from those early setbacks; ridicule in the national press would not have helped either. When he did and performed reasonably well, injury cost him his first choice place and his compatriot seized the opportunity gleefully. It would come as no surprise if Fabianski left the club this winter.